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With Brant Boyer back, Jets need to retain his special teams standouts

Brant Boyer proved he was one of the top special teams coaches in the NFL in 2018, so Adam Gase decided to keep him around. Now, the next step in securing one of the NFL’s best special teams units is to retain its core contributors.

Through a combination of key free agent acquisitions, developing in-house talent and innovating coaching, Boyer turned what was once one of the worst units in the NFL into one of the league’s best after taking over in 2016. The Jets special teams DVOA went from 25th in 2017 to first in 2018, were fourth in field goals made, fifth in field goal percentage and finished with the most return yards in the league.

If the Jets want to maintain those numbers, they’ll need to re-sign some surprisingly-important impending free agents.

First, there’s return specialist Andre Roberts and kicker Jason Myers, who both earned Pro Bowl and first-team All-Pro honors. They should be retained at all costs. Players like safety Rontez Miles, linebacker Josh Martin and cornerback Darryl Roberts also had crucial roles on special teams and should be brought back.

Miles has especially been a big part of special teams. In 2017, he led the team with 26 stops on special teams. In 2018 he had plays like this fake punt run to extend a drive against the Packers.

After six years in New York, Miles said the 2018 unit was the best because they all bought into Boyer’s coaching.

“This is the best unit I’ve been a part of,” Miles told the Jets website. “Coach Boyer played for a long time … and knows what he’s talking about. And he’s got the right personnel here to follow and perfect what he’s teaching. He’s the reason I am as good as I am. He put me in positions to make tackles and make plays. He knows, man. And he knows his personnel very well.”

Boyer’s coaching has been good, but the personnel the Jets brought in for the 2018 season was what really elevated the special teams.

For years, the Jets special teams unit had been a revolving door of underperformers and uninspiring talent. In 2017, players like JoJo Natson and ArDarius Stewart returned kicks while kicker Chandler Catanzaro was inconsistent. What do they all have in common? None of them play for the Jets anymore.

But this season, the Jets brought in Roberts and Myers, who immediately injected life into the usually dismal unit. Roberts scored a punt return touchdown in Week 1 against the Lions and Myers made 16 field goals in six weeks. That duo was a big reason why the Jets stayed at least somewhat competitive in games the offense refused to score.

Keeping players like Roberts, Myers and Miles will be a drop in the bucket for a Jets team with over $100 million in cap space. Boyer is a great coach, but a big reason why his group was so good was because of the players he had. If the Jets want to maintain some level of consistency in the only part of the team that succeeded in 2018, keeping the No. 1 special teams unit in the NFL together should be high on the list.

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